Prophylactic vaccines for genital human papillomavirus (HPV) infection have been shown to be feasible in animal models, and suitable vaccine material based on virus-like particles can be produced in bulk at reasonable cost. Initiation of phase III clinical trials will follow definition of trial outcome measures through further epidemiological studies, and development of assays of host protective immunity. Vaccines could in principle eliminate HPV-related disease, as the human race is the only natural host for the relevant papillomaviruses (PVs). Therapeutic vaccines for genital HPV infection are also possible, but have not yet been demonstrated as feasible in practice because the choice of vaccine antigens is difficult, the method of their optimal delivery is uncertain, and the nature of the relevant antiviral immunity is unknown. PV species specificity will require trials to be conducted in man, which will slow definition of an ideal vaccine.
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